California News

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Utah Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett killed while fighting Mendocino Complex Fire

The latest firefighter killed while on duty at a California wildfire was identified Tuesday as a fire chief deployed from Utah, according to his city’s fire department and mayor. Draper City Fire Department Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett, 42, died Monday fighting the Mendocino Complex Fire, the dpeartment said in a Tuesday news release shared on Facebook. It was the first fatality in connection to the Ranch Fire, a 300,000-acre blaze that has been burning since July 27. Cal Fire confirmed the death Monday evening, but did not identify the victim at the time. Burchett’s death fighting the Ranch Fire was announced by Draper Mayor Troy Walker at a Tuesday morning press conference.
Merced Sun-Star

Napa County officials scold landfill operators after string of fires

A county-level agency ordered Clover Flat Landfill last week to take corrective measures after the latest in a string of fires at the Upvalley facility. In a Notice of Violation issued Aug. 8, the Napa County Local Enforcement Agency (LEA) that oversees the landfill south of Calistoga ordered the facility to stop processing green waste until it hires a full-time site operations manager, provides adequate water for fire suppression, and takes other steps to minimize the risk of fire. According to Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann, there have been 13 fires at the landfill since July 2013, the most significant occurring on Sept. 1, 2017, and Aug. 6, 2018. Last week’s fire, the third this summer, burned a significant portion of the landfill, and firefighters were “very fortunate” to be able to prevent it from spreading outside the landfill, Biermann told the Upper Valley Waste Management Agency (UVA) on Monday at a meeting in Yountville.
Napa Valley Register

Cloverdale Fire: Brush fire in north San Diego County investigated as arson

A fire that erupted in the San Pasqual area of north San Diego County -- the third in the area in two weeks -- is being investigated as arson. The so-called Cloverdale Fire has burned at least 90 acres and is 25 percent contained, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department officials said Tuesday morning. As of 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, California Highway Patrol officials said SR-78 is closed in both directions between San Pasqual Road/Cloverdale Road to Old Milky Way. San Pasqual Road is also shut down between SR-78 and Old Milky Way. According to Cal Fire, the latest fire broke out just before 3 p.m. Monday in brush off state Route 78 and Cloverdale Road, just north of Escondido. Within two hours, the fire increased in size to at least 40 acres. However, crews were able to stop the rate of the fire’s spread just before 6 p.m.
KGTV-TV ABC 10 San Diego

5-Alarm Vallejo Fire Contained, Highway Ramp Reopens

A five-alarm vegetation fire in Vallejo was contained Monday evening and a state highway ramp reopened following that containment, officials with the Vallejo Fire Department and California Highway Patrol said. Danny Gutierrez, firefighter engineer and a spokesperson for the Vallejo Fire Department, said the fire was contained to five acres shortly after 5 p.m. It started near the junction of state Highway 37 and Interstate Highway 80 and went to five alarms because of water issues and how challenging it was for firefighters to get to the fire, which was behind some homes. The fire burned grass and small brush. Gutierrez said the wind pushed the flames away from the homes and none were damaged or destroyed. No one was injured. Fire officials believe a mechanical failure on a vehicle caused the sparks that started the fire.
KPIX-TV CBS 5 San Francisco

Fire burns through several apartments in southeast Fresno complex

Twenty-three people were left homeless Monday after a fire in southeast Fresno burned through several apartments. The fire broke out in the Vista Del Loma apartment complex near Belmont and Manila avenues. About 50 people were evacuated from their apartments after the fire broke out. Just before 10 a.m., a fire broke out in one of the apartments on the west side of the complex, and the flames reached a propane tank Fresno fire officials say no one was hurt. Residents were still evacuated and not able to go into their apartments because of smoke damage as well as lack of electricity. Firefighters were looking into what caused the fire.
KGPE-TV CBS 47 Fresno

Bodycam Video: Police Rush to Aid SPCA as Fire Approaches in Vacaville

Police body camera video captured the daring rescue of 60 cats and dogs from a Northern California animal shelter threatened by a wildfire. Video footage released by the Vacaville Police Department shows officers helping staffers at the Solano County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals racing to get the animals out of the building on Saturday as flames from the Nelson Fire closed in on the facility. The SPCA said firefighters were stationed on the property, ready to fight off the flames as officers, volunteers and staffers evacuated the animals. The shelter said Sunday all of the animals were placed in temporary foster homes until the facility could be cleaned of ash and debris, and power was restored to the area. They hope to reopen on Wednesday.
KNTV-TV NBC 11 Bay Area

Monday, August 13, 2018

Colin Stowell sworn in as next San Diego Fire Chief

Colin Stowell was sworn in Monday as chief of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. Following a national search that included interview panels with local firefighters, Mayor Kevin Faulconer decided a "familiar face" was the best choice to lead the department. Stowell, a San Diego native, began his career with the SDFD in 1988. He served as captain, battalion chief, deputy chief and assistant chief during his first tenure before leaving in 2016 to lead Heartland Fire & Rescue. "It's critical that we have the very best people in the most important positions to keep our neighborhoods safe," the mayor said during Stowell's swearing-in ceremony. The City Council unanimously approved Stowell's nomination on July 23. Stowell, the city's 18th fire-rescue chief, succeeds Kevin Ester, who had served on an interim basis since April. City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf and members of the community joined Stowell and Faulconer for the ceremony in front of SDFD Station 1.
KFMB-TV CBS 8 San Diego

Sonoma County fire chiefs seek $42 million cash infusion to bolster services, staffing

Fire officials on Tuesday will ask the Board of Supervisors to approve a $42 million annual plan calling for more firefighters and new fire stations to plug response holes in the county — with a recommendation of a half-cent countywide sales tax hike to voters next year to fund it. The plan would add about 175 paid firefighters, many of them paramedics, to bolster the county’s current paid firefighting force of 400. It also calls for 10 new fire stations to house round-the-clock staff, some of those in rural areas now served by volunteers. One new station would replace a small volunteer firehouse in the hills north of Santa Rosa where the Tubbs fire swept into the county in October. Another would go up in Jenner, improving response times to emergencies on Highway 1 and the coast communities. Others are slated for Bloomfield in the west county and Lakeville, south of Petaluma.
Press Democrat

Ranch Fire, one of Mendocino Complex fires, is now largest in state history, Cal Fire says

The Ranch Fire, one of the Mendocino Complex fires, became the largest wildfire in California history on Sunday morning, Cal Fire confirmed. The Ranch Fire scorched 282,479 acres by Sunday morning — bypassing the previous record holder, December’s Thomas Fire, which burned 281,893 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, according to Lynne Tolmachoff, a Cal Fire spokeswoman. Firefighters saw extreme fire behavior Saturday night, and hot, dry and windy weather conditions continue in the area of the fire, Cal Fire said in its report Sunday morning. Between Saturday morning and Sunday morning, the Ranch Fire burned 6,173 acres, according to Cal Fire. Firefighters plan Sunday to try to contain the northwestern part of the Ranch Fire and will also try to keep the fire from moving west, Cal Fire said.
San Luis Obispo County Tribune

Update: Judge Rejects Plea Deals In Ghost Ship Fire

A California judge on Friday rejected the plea deals of two men who were charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter after a 2016 California warehouse fire. In handing down his decision, Judge James Cramer said 48-year-old Derick Almena didn’t accept “full responsibility and remorse” for the fatal blaze which occurred during an unlicensed concert at the dilapidated Oakland warehouse known as the “Ghost Ship.” The plea deal had called for Almena to be sentenced to nine years in prison and 28-year-old Max Harris to six years. Relatives of victims who died in the blaze had slammed the proposed sentences as too lenient. Authorities have alleged Almena rented the warehouse and illegally converted it into an entertainment venue and residences before the fire. Harris was accused of helping him collect rent and schedule concerts.
KOVR-TV CBS Sacramento

Firefighters Keep Evacuated Carr Fire Family’s Pet Fish Alive

A Redding family who fled the sprawling Carr Fire returned home to find something fishy had happened while they were away. They were doubtless elated. According to a tweet from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the family fled the 190,000-acre blaze burning just west of Redding, in Northern California. They left behind their finned friend, Grant, and the father told his daughter that Grant likely hadn’t made it after going without food for an extended period. “Both were in for quite a shock when they returned home to a well-fed fish!” read the Cal Fire tweet. An accompanying photo showed Grant swimming among the tall grass, marbles and porcelain jug that decorate his abode. A handwritten note from a member of the department’s Engine 1489 crew said, “Fed your fish a few sprinkles. Sorry if we weren’t supposed to.” A notation beneath it from the Corning Police Department said Grant had been fed again August 1 at 10:33 a.m.
KPIX-TV CBS 5 San Francisco

All-out aerial assault helps firefighters save homes in Holy fire as containment grows

Tera Swick watched in horror as monster flames raced down a mountain Friday morning and toward her mother’s neighborhood. She and her family had been tracking the Holy fire during the last few days, watching it gain steam then stall as it climbed through the Santa Ana Mountains from Orange County into the foothills above the Riverside County lake community. All night, the fire raced toward the Robin Hood Oaks subdivision, which was illuminated with flames and the flashing lights of fire trucks. Swick had a U-Haul packed with belongings ready to go with her family. All night, the fire raced toward the Robin Hood Oaks subdivision, which was illuminated with flames and the flashing lights of fire trucks. Swick had a U-Haul packed with belongings ready to go with her family. Then, a plane flew in low and dropped water on the flames. Swick and her family screamed with excitement. “They’re just amazing,” she said. “We’re cheering them on every time they’re making drops.”
San Diego Union-Tribune

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